Re-industrialisation and the Fashion Trades

  • Pamela Sharpe
Part of the Studies in Gender History book series (SGH)


The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw the emergence of several new industries in the area where the now diminishing cloth trade had been situated. This chapter considers in chronological order the emergence of the silk industry and commercial lace embroidery, straw-plaiting, shoe-binding and tailoring. All of these trades were characterised by employing predominantly women, catering for fashion trends in the domestic market, and offering low-waged and seasonal employment usually in urban locations. Yet to an extent these trades represent the ‘re-industrialisation’ of north-east Essex. They were impoverished industries, based on textiles or needlework and offering limited employment prospects. By the early nineteenth century, in the type of goods produced, Essex had moved from fabric to finery, from the ‘staple’, supplying an overseas market, to the luxury trade, largely supplying a middle-class domestic market.


Eighteenth Century Female Labour Wool Cloth Early Nineteenth Century Silk Fabric 
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Copyright information

© Pamela Sharpe 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela Sharpe
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BristolBristolUK

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